UWM Archivists Study Abroad in Scotland

Ellen Engseth is Curator of the Immigration History Research Center Archives and Head of the Migration and Social Services Collections at the University of Minnesota’s Archives and Special Collections. She also is adjunct faculty with the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee School of Information Studies. She writes about a recent study abroad class to Scotland, and is interested in hearing from others regarding international projects and professional development, or study abroad education….

I am interested in internationalism of the field, especially professional development and global literacy in the context of training and education. I’ve recently returned from teaching a study abroad class, offered through the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM) School of Information Studies’ Archival Studies program. I call the course ‘In the Scottish Archive’ to reflect its unique opportunity of learning hours behind-the-scenes in numerous repositories located in Edinburgh, Scotland; it is structured around on-site repository visits. The course centers on theory and/or practices of Scottish archivists and other information/records professionals. Our study enables us to compare and contrast between UK and US archival theory and practice, the extent of which is dependent upon knowledge of the latter. Before we leave the US and gather in Edinburgh, the students are introduced to the Scottish cultural and work environment through pre-travel readings. For two weeks in Scotland, this was furthered by a living and learning environment including structured lectures, class discussion, personal observation hours at repositories, and other forms of onsite learning. Broad goals for the course are to encourage international/global literacy, and inter-cultural confidence and interest in the next generation of professionals. Specific class learning outcomes include an ability to compare and contrast Scottish and US archival practice and theory, and international experience through interaction with colleagues and institutions in a foreign country. And for all of us involved, including myself as instructor, the experience can broaden the context of our US-based work, and suggest affinities and connections.

engseth-class-2014This year, ‘In the Scottish Archive’ visited the Digital Curation Centre, Edinburgh University Library Center for Research Collections, the National Library of Scotland, the National Records of Scotland/ScotlandsPeople Centre, National War Museum library, and Scottish Catholic Archives. In addition, we observed the Repository Fringe “unconference” on open access and digital curation, and met with Dr. Mary Choquette’s University of Maryland’s Follow the Fringe: Documentation and Preservation of Cultural Movements in Media course. (That course was documenting the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival while visiting Edinburgh, and their class visit coincided, happily, with ours.) This year, ‘In the Scottish Archive’ discussion concentrated on professional training and associations, and the legal and political environment centered around the 2011 Public Records (Scotland) Act, Freedom of Information Act, and the Data Protection Act. Of course, much discussion was in the air regarding the September 18th, 2014 referendum regarding Scottish independence from the United Kingdom.

I know all of us involved thank the Scottish colleagues who spoke with us and shared their work. The people, and connections we make, are always the best part of this experience.

I am very interested to hear from others interested in research and writing on international projects, professional development or study abroad related education. Please contact me at eengseth@umn.edu.

SNAP Report of SAA2014 Session 405, Access Under Occupation: Archival Collections in Palestine

Students and New Archives Professionals Roundtable and member Jennifer Sharp reported on the compelling session 405, Access Under Occupation: Archival Collections in Palestine for the SNAP Blog….

Read the report at http://snaproundtable.wordpress.com/saa-2014-session-summaries/session-405-access-under-occupation-archival-collections-in-palestine/.

International Archival Affairs at SAA2014: Report from Session 208, Making Change Happen in the Global Archival Community

IAART Member-at-Large Katharina Hering reports on the presentations and discussion at SAA annual meeting session 208 focused on the International Council on Archives, with additional information from the ICA website….

ICAlogoThe presence of the International Council on Archives at the 2014 SAA meeting was no coincidence: In the last years, the ICA has been making an effort to change its face, increase its outreach, and become more transparent and approachable, also to individual members. At the session, David Leitch, Secretary General of ICA, which is headquartered in Paris, gave an overview of the development and work of the organization; and Margaret Crockett, Deputy Secretary General Conferences, highlighted the work of the Program Commission, and with Emilie Gagnet Leumas discussed the ICA Sections.

Leitch outlined the fascinating history of the ICA, which was founded in 1948 under the auspices of UNESCO, reflecting the wave of idealism toward international cooperation following World War II. June 9, the day when ICA was created in 1948, is now celebrated as International Archives Day. ICA has grown gradually over the past decades, and now has 1500 institutional and individual members from over 200 countries. Leitch outlined the role of the ICA as an international, non-governmental organization, which advocates for the protection of archival heritage, encourages and supports international archival solidarity, promotes and develops standards and best practices for archival management (for example ISAD (G)), while facilitating professional dialogue and exchange across national borders. ICA is driven by its diverse membership, and works closely with UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the International Committee of the Blue Shield.

The ICA secretariat has a small staff, and the leadership consists of volunteers who are elected by the members. The ICA strives for a democratic and transparent governance, and the highest decision making body of the organization is the general annual assembly of the members, which decides the strategic direction of the organization. The organization of ICA’s international conference in 2013 was a reflection of the move toward greater outreach and openness to all members. The initial 2013 conference was held in Brussels, and the 2014 conference will be held in Girona.

Among the strategic objectives of the ICA is to focus more on information management, and on supporting information professionals – archivists, records managers, and knowledge managers, in their work to meet the challenges of managing the enormous quantities of electronic records. Leitch emphasized that individual members are very welcome, and announced a special introductory membership rate of 15 Euros for SAA members. (The rate for an individual associate membership is 30 euros, and 20 euros for students, retirees, and unemployed professionals.)

The ICA issues several publications – the newsletter Flash, which is available to members, and the journal Comma, published by Liverpool Press. Recently, ICA also launched a new publication series.

The Program Commission, which oversees the development of ICA’s technical and professional programs, also serves as an umbrella for Branches, Sections and expert groups. Margaret Crockett, Deputy Secretary General Conferences, ICA, highlighted that international archival cooperation and solidarity, and providing support for archives and archivists with the greatest development needs, is at the heart of the mission of the ICA. The International Fund for Archival Development (FIDA), initially established in 1970 and reactivated in 2010, serves as a critical instrument toward that goal, and is designed to meet the needs of archives and professional archivists in low-resourced countries. FIDA funds have supported projects in numerous countries, for example in Cameroon, Mozambique, Lebanon, and Fiji, among others. An overview of the FIDA supported projects can be found here: http://www.ica.org/267/funded-projects/fida-funded-projects.html.

The Program Commission also supports and funds the development of toolkits and guides focusing on specific aspects of archival management. Recently, the short guides for photographic and audiovisual archives management have been developed, which are currently only available for ICA members. Most other guides, manuals, and toolkits that are made available through the ICA Online Resources Centre, can be downloaded for free from the Online Resources Centre, which contains a wealth of materials and is worth exploring in some depth. These resources include the recently published Guide on Appraisal and Disposition of Student Records, recently developed by the Section on University and Research Institution Archives, or the Recordkeeper’s Bookshelf, an introduction to six main areas of professional records management practices, or the Technical Guidance on Managing Archives with Restrictions, developed by the Committee on Best Practices and Standards, Working Group on Access, among many other guides, manuals, and toolkits. The website also includes links to standards developed by the ICA, including ISAD (G), the first standard developed by ICA, and ISAAR (CPF).

Emilie Gagnet Leumas, the chair of the Section for Archives of Faith Traditions (originally founded as the Section of Archives of Churches and Religious Denominations), and Archivist at the Archdiocese of New Orleans, discussed the work of the ICA Professional Sections. There are currently twelve sections focusing on different areas of professional practice, for example the Section for Business and Labour Archives, the Section for Architectural Records, and the Section for Archival Education and Training. Membership in sections is free for ICA members, who may join as many sections as they wish. Sections encourage research and the preparation of resources, and facilitate professional exchange focused on specific areas.

In addition to the sections, the ICA regional branches offer ICA members in the same (large) regions an umbrella to collaborate on initiatives and develop programs. The branch for North America (including Canada) is NAANICA, the North American Archival Network.

All presenters emphasized that supporting recent archival professionals under ICA’s international umbrella is an essential important part of ICA’s mission, and that there are many ways for both recent and seasoned archival professionals to get involved: Archivists can be active in sections and branches, write articles for Flash or Comma, and those with linguistic skills can volunteer as a translator, which one can do from home without having to travel overseas for ICA meetings or conferences.

Emilie Gagnet Leumas highlighted the importance for archivists to expand one’s archival horizons beyond national borders, and learn about the work of colleagues in archives and libraries in other countries. While many of us do not have the opportunity and the resources to do much travelling abroad, the ICA offers many possibilities to learn about the work and challenges of archives around the globe, while opening up possibilities for collaboration. For IAART members, in particular, there are many opportunities to take advantage of the roundtable as a forum to develop ideas and initiate projects that can be further developed in collaboration with both the SAA and the ICA.

SAA2014 IAART Meeting

The International Archival Affairs Roundtable had a lively meeting at the SAA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. Here’s the report from that meeting….

International Archival Affairs Roundtable Meeting Report
Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting
Washington, DC, 13 August 2014

3:30 PM Business Meeting

Senior Co-chair Brad Bauer opened the meeting with a review of the goals and purposes of the Roundtable. The steering committee members were introduced, and meeting attendees introduced themselves around the room. There were 42 attendees.

Junior Co-chair Christian Kelleher announced election results for new steering committee members. Danielle Scott is the new incoming Co-chair, and Katharina Hering the new Member-at-Large.

SAA Council liaison Helen Wong Smith gave updates on recent adoptions by Council, including best practices for volunteers, Archives & Archivists Listserv terms of participation, advocacy, and metrics.

3:45 Speakers

Trudy Peterson of the International Council on Archives’ Human Rights Working Group introduced the ICA draft “Basic Principles on the Role of Archivists in Support of Human Rights”. Inspired by the words of Desmond Tutu, the draft describes principles for selecting and retaining archives, providing access to information in archives, special safeguards for human rights archives, qualifications and training, freedom and expression and association, and professional associations of archivists. The draft went out for public comment in June and will be revised by ICA Council’s attention. Comments are encouraged.

David Leitch, Secretary General of ICA, gave updates on ICA activities. The International Archives Day (June 9) celebrations marked 100 years since the start of World War I; information technology developments continue, including AtoM, Access to Memory; work progresses on the Multilingual Archival Terminology translations; the International Fund for Archival Development was active in Cambodia, Cameroon, Guyana, and the Pacific region; and outreach activities grew for Latin America and Africa. Last year’s ICA conference in Brussels had over 500 attendees from 100 countries. This year in Girona promises to be even larger!

Bill Maher, the SAA representative to the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, reported on progress toward the promulgation of an international copyrights treaty. He noted that every archive has unique holdings, and thus a potentially global audience, but that intellectual property regulations are outdated. Maher noted the importance of American contributions to the discussion and the difference between the American perspective and that of ICA. He noted resistance from content industries to open development opportunities, and called for archivists to contact leaders to explain the need for archival exceptions to IP policy and gave an example of country specific barriers caused by varying IP regulations.

4:30 Open Floor

Brad Bauer discussed the Roundtables microsite and blog, including the contest to name the IAART blog. He encouraged session proposals for Cleveland 2015 to focus on international archives, and noted the proposal deadline of October 8.

Katharina Hering and Christian Kelleher announced an effort to document international archives related sessions at the conference through member-supplied reviews to be posted to the blog.

Emilie Gagnet Leumas of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the ICA Section for Archives of Faith Traditions called for information resources in multiple languages to support international archives facing disaster and war.

Wanda Williams of NARA described resources available to remedy disaster damage at the National Archives at St. Louis’s preservation program.

Barbara Mathe of the American Museum of Natural History in New York described collections of photographs of indigenous people that have been removed from indigenous communities and called for a turn-key application to help such communities regain their historical patrimony in a culturally appropriate way.

Christiana Dobrzynski described the Marcel Duchamp Research Portal project at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and inquired about examples of other international collaborative, post-custodial projects.

David Sutton of the Diasporic Literary Archives project reported on the project’s international solidarity and capacity building work, with particular success in Trinidad and Namibia.

Theresa Polk, chair of the Human Rights Archives Roundtable, and Christian Kelleher related plans for a joint roundtable meeting at the next SAA conference, and called for ideas for collaborative projects with the two roundtables.

Zehao Zhou of York College, Pennsylvania, described the database project on the history of the People’s Republic of China that was done by non-archivists, and the challenges brought to them by the Chinese government using IP to challenge the database’s legality. He presented a professional poster at the conference.

5:00 IAART Meeting Adjourned